We withhold the right to refuse rock to anyone.
The way Harmonix royally trolled Activision always made me as giddy as an AC/DC member dressed up as a school boy. Sell the rights to your wildly popular rock-and-roll series, turn around, and run a savage burn on that buyer by completely outdoing everything they thought they bought. We should all be so lucky.
[image1]Guitar Hero and Rock Band are two very different entities these days, and Guitar Hero sales have started to reflect the waning days of Tony Hawk. Warriors of Rock is an attempt to capture the audience that used to love Guitar Hero, an attempt to re-ignite the flames of rock the corporate Gods have seemingly extinguished with the likes of Guitar Hero: Van Halen. Do you choose an new plastic keyboard peripheral in Rock Band 3, or the ability to change into a werehog and save rock forever in Warriors of Rock?
Yes, your favorite Guitar Hero avatars like Lars Umloud, Axel Steel, and Judy Nails have been imbued with special powers and transformations. The quest mode sets these characters up as the last saviors of rock and roll, the only hope at defeating "the beast", an evil robot that imprisoned the God of Rock. Completing each setlist transforms the characters into their "Warrior" forms, enhancing their powers like a higher multiplier and the ability to earn more stars. Each character has their own setlist with music pertaining to his or her specific style.
This turns into a horrific situation for the casual player, scarier than even Lars Umloud's transformation into a pig or zombie Axel Rose. Previous Guitar Hero titles have mixed genres together, making progression based on the difficulty of a song. About halfway through the quest, you're forced to play through six songs of death metal. You have no choice! You have to sit there and hit buttons. Now, you may like death metal, but it's quite possible that you'll run into a genre that you won't.
[image2]Locking progression to a genre is a terrible design decision, although it may have made sense on paper. Choices like these sends the average Guitar Hero player reeling. Why'd they do this to the franchise?
Guitar Hero's stagnation is obviously due to the fracturing of the franchise, and Warriors of Rock only worsens it. Aiming for the hardest core of Guitar Hero players - the ones who record their session and show off on Youtube, the ones who post religiously on Score Hero, or the ones who are 14-years old and just plain annoying - is misdirected.
Guitar Hero's difficulty has also gone steadily upwards, and Warriors of Rock continues this nasty little trend. I've played these games from the first installment, even dabbling a little in Gitaroo games in Japanese arcades. Differentiation is essential with these games - they must have their own personality, but Warriors of Rock is over-the-line obnoxious.
In a massively redeeming sweep, the inclusion of Rush's entire 2112 album is a huge value for any serious rhythm-game player. The environments for this section of the game are reminiscent of The Beatles: Rock Band's "Dreamscapes". This glorious bit of gameplay comes a little too soon, but there's no reason to go back and play it again like it was the finale.
[image3]And despite all these flaws, this is still Guitar Hero. The rhythm gameplay remains solid, polished, and freeform, with plenty of multiplayer and online goodness. The menu interfaces are easy to understand and user-friendly. But all of the production values in the world aren't going to help the Guitar Hero franchise if it continues down this path.
I have to give Neversoft and Activision credit for trying some new, interesting things with the franchise. It's just a shame that those choices actually narrow the audience for Guitar Hero, rather than bringing everyone back in the fold. If you've ever preferred Rock Band to Guitar Hero, Warriors of Rock won't change that. If Guitar Hero is your game, this is really a love song to you. Let's just hope it isn't the swan song.